The Oklahoma State Department of Health, in coordination with its county health departments, is offering a new service by providing a screening protocol to identify women at risk for postpartum depression Postpartum women seeking family planning services at their local county health department will be invited to take a 10-item questionnaire called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale
The EPDS is a widely used depression screening scale that identifies women with possible depression. Clients will also receive education on the symptoms of depression, and self-care practices that can reduce the risk and help to alleviate symptoms. When necessary, referrals will be made for mental health evaluation and treatment.
While up to 80 percent of moms experience some tearfulness, mood swings, and crying shortly after the birth of a baby – often called the “baby blues” – symptoms that get worse or last longer than two weeks may indicate postpartum depression. Postpartum depression also includes symptoms such as depressed mood, lack of interest in pleasure or activities, physical agitation, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, and decreased concentration or inability to make decisions.
According to OSDH data from 2011, 15 percent of Oklahoma moms report depressive symptoms two to six months postpartum. Similarly, across the nation, one in eight mothers reports the emergence of major depression within weeks of delivery. Public awareness, early identification, and treatment are critical to improving the clinical outcomes for moms and their families.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day on May 12, and recognize May as Mental Health Month, the OSDH Maternal and Child Health Service asks the public to show support to the new moms in their life. It may be as simple as offering to babysit so mom can have a break, feeding or playing with the baby, making a meal for her family, or helping mom take care of herself.
If you recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression in yourself or someone else, talk with a health care provider. For more information, visit http://iio.health.ok.gov and click on the topic “Depression After Pregnancy.”